Liability for Permissive Drivers in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia

By Cory Bilton

Bike Lane 6

Most of the time, a person drives her own car. But occasionally, a vehicle owner lends her car to a friend or relative. When this happens, the friend or relative is a permissive driver. If that friend or relative injures someone else while driving the car, the driver is liable for the person’s injuries. But what about the vehicle owner? Is she liable to the injured person too? Figuring out a legal puzzle involving permissive drivers and vehicle owners can be a little like watching Abbot and Costello doing “Who’s on First?” It is made more complex by the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Washington, DC area. The following statutes and cases will help you get the ball rolling.

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Damages from Being Injured in an Accident

By Cory Bilton

Potomac Trail 1

Recently, I read a unique article in the New York Times about what it is like to be a pedestrian run over by a vehicle. The author was run over by a delivery truck while in a crosswalk in 2007. She recounted her injuries, anecdotes from her recovery, and the challenges she continues to face 7 years after the incident. She also tells the stories of three of her coworkers who were also pedestrians struck by motor vehicles. While each individual story differs in some respect, there is significant similarity in each person’s response to the trauma. Unless you have been injured in an accident yourself, I think it is difficult to understand the challenges, difficulties, and memories that an injured person faces.

While reading this article, and because of some questions I’ve gotten from my friends and family lately, I think it is useful to discuss the types of damages that an injured person can recover from a wrongdoer.   It is critical to note that money is not a cure for any injury. People I’ve met who were injured in accidents invariably would prefer to have not been injured as opposed to receiving financial compensation. A wrongdoer’s payment for the injuries he causes is an imperfect remedy at best. However, in trying to quantify the damages resulting from an accident, these are the categories that a wrongdoer can be legally liable for:

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For UIM Claims, Maryland Insurance Code § 19-511 is Critical

By Cory Bilton

L and NH 1

In the last two months, appellate courts in Maryland issued three opinions arising out of Maryland Insurance Code § 19-511.  This statute, enacted nearly 20 years ago, lays out a procedure for allowing an injured person to receive the proceeds from a settlement with an automobile liability insurer while still reserving the right to make a uninsured motorist insurance (UIM) claim against her own insurer.  The legal interplay between making a liability insurance claim and making a UIM claim can be very tricky.  But the procedure in § 19-511 contains minimal legalese and is relatively straightforward to follow.  The overwhelming message for lawyers from these recent appellate decisions is to become very familiar with the process laid out in § 19-511.  Follow its language and you and your client may safely pursue the UIM claim.  Deviate from its instruction, and you and your client will suffer serious consequences.

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